Great Faith

Scripture Reading

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him
and a large crowd followed him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to him,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, Who touched me?”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” 
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” 
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.
(Mark 5:21-43)

 

Scripture Study

5:21–43 Two miracle stories connected chronologically and thematically. Both highlight Jesus’ power over physical sickness (5:29, 42) and his favorable response to faith (5:23, 34, 36; CCC 548, 2616). The accounts are also linked by the figure twelve years, which represents the duration of the woman’s illness (5:25) and the age of the young girl (5:42).

5:23 lay your hands on her: Often in the Gospels Jesus responds to the persistent pleas of parents whose children are suffering or in danger (7:25–30; 9:17–27; Mt 17:14–18; Jn 4:46–54). His mercy touches these distressed parents whenever they turn to him in faith. Jesus also displays a deep affection for children (10:13–16; Mt 18:5–6).

5:25 a flow of blood: A condition that makes the woman and everything she touches legally unclean (Lev 15:25–30).

5:37 Peter … James … John: Three of Jesus’ closest disciples, who were also present with him at the Transfiguration (9:2) and in the garden of Gethsemane (14:33). They are likewise the only apostles Jesus renamed: Simon became “Peter”, which means “rock”, while James and John were called “Boanerges”, which means “sons of thunder” (3:16–17).

5:39 not dead but sleeping: Biblical writers often speak of “sleep” as a euphemism for biological death (Mt 27:52; Jn 11:11; 1 Cor 15:6). Jesus uses this description to emphasize that the girl’s condition is only temporary and reversible.

5:41 Talitha cumi: One of several Aramaic expressions preserved in Mark (7:11, 34; 14:36; 15:22, 34). He regularly translates these expressions for his non-Jewish readers in Rome.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, the centerpiece of today’s Gospel is Jesus healing the hemorrhaging woman. Having a flow of blood for twelve years meant that anyone with whom she came in contact would be considered unclean. She couldn’t, in any meaningful sense, participate in the ordinary life of her society.

The woman touches Jesus—and how radical and dangerous an act this was, since it should have rendered Jesus unclean. But so great is her faith, that her touch, instead, renders her clean. Jesus effectively restores her to full participation in her community.

But what is perhaps most important is this: Jesus implicitly puts an end to the ritual code of the book of Leviticus. What he implies is that the identity of the new Israel, the Church, would not be through ritual behaviors but through imitation of him. Notice, please, how central this is in the New Testament. We hear elsewhere in the Gospels that Jesus declares all foods clean, and throughout the letters of Paul we hear a steady polemic against the Law. All of this is meant to show that Jesus is at the center of the new community.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1]  Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 74.

Hope in the Lord

Scripture Reading

How great is the goodness, O LORD,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men.

You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the LORD whose wondrous mercy
he has shown me in a fortified city. 

Once I said in my anguish,
“I am cut off from your sight”;
Yet you heard the sound of my pleading
when I cried out to you.

Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly.

(Psalm 31:20-24)

 

Scripture Study

31:20. His petition is followed by a proclamation of God’s goodness towards those who fear him (meaning, as we can see, those who have recourse to him in the temple).

31:21–22. The psalmist bears witness to the fact that the prayer of the temple—“the fortified city” or Jerusalem (v. 21)—was heard at times when the people felt abandoned by God—“cast out of your presence” (v. 22).

31:23–24. Therefore, he calls on those whose faith has wavered to love the Lord and to hope in him.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Like its companions, Psalm 31 is an individual prayer for help from distress. The theme of the whole is stated in the formulaic sentence: “In you, LORD, I take refuge.” The motif of refuge is continued in metaphors like rock, stronghold, fortress, and crag and is resumed at the end in verses 19–24. Indeed, the prayer as a whole is a “taking refuge in the LORD.”

The psalm has been called a model of a prayer that is confident of being heard. This confidence informs the prayer from start to finish; to pray this psalm is to be led into and instructed in this confidence. But the confidence of the prayer is not in any respect a virtue of the one who prays. It is, rather, a possibility that is based on the character of the one to whom the prayer is made.

So the one who prays run of course to Jesus. Prophet and Messiah are both scriptural illustrations of the identity of the servant who in the face of opposition commits his life to the LORD. Their examples show how even through failure and death, the providence of the faithful God determines the “times” of his servants. They encourage and exhort us through the words of verses 23–24 to find love, strength, and courage in life and death through making a commitment of trust in the Lord.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 120–121.

The Beauty of the Beatitudes

Scripture Reading

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:1-12)

 

Scripture Study

5:1–2 Unlike Luke’s sermon, this is addressed not only to the disciples but to the crowds.

5:3–12 The form Blessed are (is) occurs frequently in the Old Testament in the Wisdom literature and in the psalms. Although modified by Matthew, the first, second, fourth, and ninth beatitudes have Lucan parallels (Mt 5:3 // Lk 6:20; Mt 5:4 // Lk 6:21, 22; Mt 5:6 // Lk 6:21a; Mt 5:11–12 // Lk 5:22–23).

5:3 The poor in spirit: in the Old Testament, the poor (anawim) are those who are without material possessions and whose confidence is in God (see Is 61:1; Zep 2:3; in the NAB the word is translated lowly and humble, respectively, in those texts). Matthew added in spirit in order either to indicate that only the devout poor were meant or to extend the beatitude to all, of whatever social rank, who recognized their complete dependence on God.

5:4 Cf. Is 61:2 “(The Lord has sent me) … to comfort all who mourn.” They will be comforted: here the passive is a “theological passive” equivalent to the active “God will comfort them”; so also in Mt 5:6, 7.

5:5 Cf. Ps 37:11, “… the meek shall possess the land.” In the psalm “the land” means the land of Palestine; here it means the kingdom.

5:6 For righteousness: a Matthean addition. For the meaning of righteousness here.

5:8 Cf. Ps 24:4. Only one “whose heart is clean” can take part in the temple worship. To be with God in the temple is described in Ps 42:2 as “beholding his face,” but here the promise to the clean of heart is that they will see God not in the temple but in the coming kingdom.

5:10 Righteousness here, as usually in Matthew, means conduct in conformity with God’s will.

5:12 The prophets who were before you: the disciples of Jesus stand in the line of the persecuted prophets of Israel. Some would see the expression as indicating also that Matthew considered all Christian disciples as prophets.[1]

Scripture Reflection

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Mt 5:10

The Greek word for happy (makarios) denotes blessedness or happiness not in the sense of an emotional state but in terms of being in a fortunate situation. The beatitudes announce that the blessings of the New Covenant will be fully realized in heaven. Some do promise blessings that are partly enjoyed in this life, but all of them look beyond the struggles and hardships of this life to the eternal blessedness of the life to come. Jesus’ beatitudes represent a reversal of values, turning the world’s standards for happiness upside down.

Many of the people whom the world would consider to be among the most miserable—the poor, the mourning, the meek, the persecuted—Jesus proclaims to be in an advantageous situation, for God looks now with favor on them and assures them of consolation in the future. Jesus thus challenges his followers to see life from God’s viewpoint, not the world’s. When followers of Christ live by God’s standards, they are truly in a fortunate state in life, no matter what their circumstances may be, for they bring a glimmer of the joy and hope of the heavenly kingdom into the afflictions of the present-day world.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1342–1343.

Belief in the Unseen

Scripture Reading

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for 
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested. 

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance; 
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; 
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, 
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate, 
even though he was past the normal age
Band Sarah herself was sterileB 
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead, 
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky 
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised 
but saw it and greeted it from afar 
and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, 
for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, 
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, 
for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, 
and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, 
of whom it was said,
Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.
He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, 
and he received Isaac back as a symbol. 

(Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19)

 

Scripture Study

11:1 things not seen: Such as the heavenly Jerusalem (11:10, 16; 12:22), where Jesus ministers in the heavenly sanctuary (4:14; 8:1–2; 12:2). ● Faith is distinct from all other acts of the intellect. It is defined as assurance, which distinguishes it from opinion, suspicion, and doubt; it adheres to things not seen, which distinguishes it from science, whose object is something apparent; and it is directed toward things hoped for, by which the virtue of faith is distinguished from popular notions of faith, which have no reference to the beatitude we hope to attain (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, 4, 1).

11:8–22 The faithful of the patriarchal age. ● Abraham stands out as the man of faith par excellence. He kept faith when the Lord called him to leave his homeland (Heb 11:8; Gen 12:1–4), to roam around Canaan like a nomad (Heb 11:9; Gen 12:5–9; 13:2–18), and to sacrifice his son as a holocaust (Heb 11:17–19; Gen 22:1–14). Sarah overcame doubts with faith, believing that God could reverse the barrenness of her womb with the blessing of a son (Heb 11:11; Gen 21:1–3). Isaac and Jacob blessed their sons and gave them visions of the future (Heb 11:20–21; Gen 27:26–40; 48:8–20). Joseph peered into the future by faith, foreseeing the Exodus and the transfer of his bones out of Egypt (Heb 11:22; Gen 50:24–25; Ex 13:19) (CCC 2570–73).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Although the text does not aim to provide a precise definition of faith, it does in fact very clearly describe the essence of that virtue, linking it to hope in future things and to certainty concerning supernatural truths. By means of faith, the believer acquires certainty concerning God’s promises to man, and a firm conviction that he will obtain access to heaven.

Faith is “conviction” concerning things not seen. It is therefore different from opinion, suspicion or doubt (none of which implies certainty). By saying that it has to do with things unseen, it is distinguishing faith from knowledge and intuitive cognition.

A feature of faith is that it makes us certain about things which are not self-evident. That is why in order to believe one must want to believe, why the act of believing is always free and meritorious. However, faith can, with God’s help, reach a certainty greater than any proof can provide.

John Paul I said, “Therefore, nothing should dishearten us on this road to our ultimate eternal goal because we put our trust in three truths: God is all-powerful, God has a boundless love for me, and God is faithful to his promises. It is he, the God of mercies, who enkindles this trust within me, so that I never feel lonely or useless or abandoned but, rather, involved in a plan of salvation which will one day reach its goal in Paradise.”

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 432.

In Small Ways Great Things

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

(Mark 4:26-34)

 

Scripture Study

4:26–29 These verses recount another seed parable, one that is found only in Mark. This time the focus is on the seed’s intrinsic power to grow of its own accord. The sower liberally scatters his seed, then goes on with the routine of his daily life. Slowly, imperceptibly, the seed begins to sprout. The farmer does not know how this happens; even today, with the tremendous advances in microbiology, life remains a mystery. Nor can the farmer control the process. According to its natural stages the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain. The farmer can water, weed, and fertilize the ground as the months go on, but he cannot make the ripe grain appear a day before its appointed time. Farming requires an element of trust and patience. Yet the moment the harvest has arrived, the farmer is ready with his sickle to reap without delay. The harvest is a biblical image for the final judgment (Joel 4:13; Rev 14:14–15).

4:30–32 It is as if Jesus is thinking aloud, searching for ways to help his listeners to grasp the mystery of the kingdom (see 4:11). Because the kingdom is a divine reality, it cannot be defined or contained in human categories. It can be understood only by using analogies, word pictures that force the listener to think and ponder at a deeper level. Once again, the earthly reality most suitable as an analogy to the kingdom is, of all things, a tiny seed. In this third seed parable, the emphasis is on the seed’s smallness. For Jesus’ Jewish audience, the idea of the kingdom as a seed must have been quite a surprise. A more predictable comparison would be a mighty army (see Isa 13:4; Joel 2:11) or a cataclysmic earthquake (Isa 29:6). But no, the kingdom is like a mustard seed, which Jesus describes (using the device of hyperbole, or exaggeration, for effect) as the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants (another hyperbole).

In mentioning large branches that shelter many birds, Jesus is evoking the Old Testament image of a lofty, shady tree, symbolizing an empire that grants protection to peoples of different races and tongues (Ezek 17:23; 31:6; Dan 4:9). The parable of the mustard seed thus points to the future worldwide reach of the kingdom of God.

4:33 Mark’s final word on the parable discourse is another affirmation that Jesus spoke in parables not to obfuscate (as vv. 11–12 might suggest), but to adapt the mystery of the kingdom to the capacity and openness of his listeners.

4:34 Although Jesus spoke to the crowds only in parables, to his own disciples he explained everything in private. Who are these privileged disciples? Mark 3:32–35; 4:10 make clear: not just the Twelve, called to a special mission, but all “those present along with the Twelve”—that is, all those who choose to be disciples by staying close to Jesus to listen to his teachings, and by doing the will of the Father.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel Friends, today’s Gospel compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed that “when it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants.” It seems to be a law of the spiritual life that God wants good things to start small and grow over time.

We’re tempted to say, “You’re God. Just get on with it. Do it!” But why would God work the way he does? We might attempt a few explanations. It is a commonplace of the Bible that God rejoices in our cooperation. He wants us to involve us, through freedom, intelligence, and creativity, in what he is doing. And so he plants seeds, and he wants us to cultivate them.

Consider what God said to St. Francis: “Francis, rebuild my Church.” God could have rebuilt his Church without Francis, but he wanted him to get involved. When things start small, they can fly under the radar while they gain strength and heft and seriousness. Also, those involved can be tested and tried. Suppose you want to do something great in the life of the Church and you pray and God gives you massively what you want. You might not be ready, and your project will peter out. So be patient and embrace the small invitations.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Mary Healy, The Gospel of Mark, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 91–92.

Light and Shadows

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket
or under a bed,
and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; 
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, 
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given; 
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

(Mark 4:21-25)

 

Scripture Study

4:21. A “bushel” was a container used for measuring cereals and vegetables. It held a little over eight liters (two gallons).

4:22. This parable contains a double teaching. Firstly, it says that Christ’s doctrine should not be kept hidden; rather, it must be preached throughout the whole world. We find the same idea elsewhere in the Gospels: “What you hear whispered, proclaim it upon the housetops” (Mt 10:27); “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation …” (Mk 16:15). The other teaching is that the Kingdom which Christ proclaims has such ability to penetrate all hearts that, at the end of time, when Jesus comes again, not a single human action, in favor or against Christ, will not become public and manifest (cf. Mt 25:31–46).

4:24–25. Our Lord never gets tired of asking the apostles, the seeds which will produce the Church, to listen carefully to the teaching he is giving: they are receiving a treasure for which they will be held to account.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel shows how the light of Christ affects our lives. Well, light is wonderful in the measure that it illumines and brightens and delights. But light can also be disconcerting. Think of how bad most of us look in direct light! I discovered this while filming the CATHOLICISM series. I much prefer the indirect light that you can produce indoors. The full glare of the sun reveals every flaw, imperfection, and peculiarity of your face.

Think of what happens when you suddenly shine a light into a dark corner in your basement or down a lonely alley. The bugs and the vermin reveal themselves. Unsavory things scurry about for cover, afraid of the light.

When you invite Jesus into your life, you are inviting the light into your life. Again, this is wonderful, but it is also frightening. Jesus will shine his light in every corner of your life, in every room of your house. Things that look okay in the dark or in the indirect light will suddenly stand out in all of their unpleasantness.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1] Saint Mark’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 73.

A Radical Conversion

Scripture Reading

Paul addressed the people in these words:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.

“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’
And he said to me,
‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’
The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.’ 
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.'”
(Acts 22:3-16)

 

Scripture Study

22:3. Gamaliel (cf. 5:34) belonged to the school of the rabbi Hillel, which was noted for a less rigorous interpretation of the Law than that of Shammai and his disciples.

22:4. The situation described by Paul is confirmed by 1 Corinthians 15:9: “I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God”; Galatians 1:13: “You have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it”; Philippians 3:5–6: “as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church”; and 1 Timothy 1:13: “I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him [Christ]”.

22:6–11. Paul describes in his own words what happened on the way to Damascus (cf. 9:3–9; 26:6–16). This account differs in some ways from—but does not contradict—the two other versions of the episode, especially that of chapter 9, which is told in St Luke’s words.

Paul adds that the whole thing happened at midday (cf. 26:13), and he says that Jesus referred to himself as “Jesus of Nazareth”. He also includes the question “What shall I do, Lord?”, which is not given in chapter 9.

As far as Paul’s companions were concerned, we know that they saw the light (cf. 22:9) but did not see anyone (cf. 9:7): they did not see the glorified Jesus; they heard a voice (cf. 9:7) but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to Paul (cf. 22:9), that is, did not understand what the voice said.

22:10. Paul addresses Jesus as “Lord”, which shows that the vision has revealed to him the divinity of the One he was persecuting.

The divine voice orders him to get up from the ground and the future apostle of the Gentiles obeys immediately. The physical movement of getting up is a kind of symbol of the spiritual uplift his soul is given by God’s call. “This was the first grace, that was given to the first Adam; but more powerful than it is the grace in the second Adam. The effect of the first grace was that a man might have justice, if he willed; the second grace, therefore, is more powerful, because it affects the will itself; it makes for a strong will, a burning charity, so that by a contrary will the spirit overcomes the conflicting will of the flesh” (St Augustine, De correptione et gratia, 11, 31).

22:12–16. This account of Ananias and his role in Paul’s conversion is much shorter than that given in chapter 9 (cf. vv. 10–19). St Paul adapts it here to suit his audience (who are all Jews). He presents Jesus as the one in whom the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled. Like Peter (cf. 3:13ff) and Stephen (cf. 7:52) he speaks of the “God of our fathers” and the “Just One” when referring to God and to Jesus respectively.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today we reflect on the significance of the conversion of St. Paul. Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus was an answer to this question: when through Israel, would God gather the nations and bring his rule to the whole world? When Paul met Jesus he realized that the promises of God had been fulfilled, that the expectations of the prophets had been met—but in a most unexpected and extraordinary way.

He knew from his tradition that God, through Israel, would deliver the world from sin, gather the nations, and establish peace and justice everywhere. That was the hope. The usual version of that hope was something like an avenging military/political ruler like Solomon or David, or a great law-giver/leader like Moses.

What Paul saw in Jesus was someone greater than Moses, Solomon, or David—and someone wholly unexpected. God is establishing his justice, his right order, his way, through a crucified and risen criminal, and now returned from the dead? Forgiveness, compassion, nonviolence, having no truck with the ways of death? This is God’s justice, and it judges all of the fallen powers and kingdoms of the world.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] The Acts of the Apostles, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 169–171.

We Have Been Consecrated

Scripture Reading

Brothers and sisters:
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, 
and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect 
those who come to worship by the same sacrifices 
that they offer continually each year.
Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, 
since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer 
have had any consciousness of sins?
But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, 
for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats 
take away sins.
For this reason, when he came into the world, he said:

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, As is written of me in the scroll,
Behold, I come to do your will, O God.

First he says, Sacrifices and offerings,
burnt offerings and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.

These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, Behold, I come to do your will.
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated 
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(Hebrews 10:1-10)

 

Scripture Study

10:1 a shadow: The sacrifices of the Law merely prefigured the perfect sacrifice of Christ (Col 2:16–17) (CCC 128). the true form: Or, “the true image”. The expression implies that the liturgy of the New Covenant, which celebrates the saving work of Christ, still utilizes visible and sacramental signs for worship. So, for example, the ceremonial “food and drink”, as well as the “baptisms” of the Levitical order (Heb 9:10), foreshadow the sacraments of the Eucharist (13:10) and Baptism (10:22) (CCC 1145–52).

10:3 reminder of sin: The annual repetition of sacrifice on the Day of Atonement (10:4; Lev 16) is evidence that the Levitical cult was not a true solution to the problem of sin (Heb 10:2). Under the Old Covenant, sins are remembered but not removed; under the New Covenant, sins are removed and thus no longer remembered (8:12; 10:17) (CCC 1539–40)

10:5–7 The Greek version of Ps 40:6–8. ● The Psalmist views the human body as an instrument of sacrifice; it was created to be offered in obedience to the will of God. This is a form of worship more pleasing to the Lord than offering the flesh and blood of animals in the Temple (1 Sam 15:22). Jesus lives out the psalm to the utmost because his sinless life as a man, totally conformed to the divine will, made the priestly offering of his body and blood the perfect sacrifice that supersedes all others (Heb 9:12; 10:10) (CCC 614, 2100). ● Four things must be considered with every sacrifice: to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered, what is offered, and for whom it is offered. Christ, the one Mediator, remained one with God, to whom he offered sacrifice, made those for whom he offered it one in himself, and acted as one in being both the one who offers and the offering (St. Augustine, On the Trinity 4, 19).

10:7 to do your will: The will of the Father was the focus of the Son’s mission in life, even to the point of death (5:8; Mk 14:36; Phil 2:8; CCC 606–7).

10:9 the first … the second: The Old Covenant and the New (8:7, 13).[1]

Scripture Reflection

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me”

The Mass is the sacrifice of Christ, offered to the Father with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit—an offering of infinite value, which perpetuates the work of the Redemption in us and surpasses the sacrifices of the Old Law. The holy Mass brings us face to face with one of the central mysteries of our faith, because it is the gift of the Blessed Trinity to the Church. It is because of this that we can consider the Mass as the center and the source of a Christian’s spiritual life.

– St Josemaría Escrivá

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 430.

A House Divided

Scripture Reading

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, 
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself, 
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, 
he cannot stand; 
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property 
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house. 
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies 
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit 
will never have forgiveness, 
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
(Mark 3:22-30)

 

Scripture Study

3:22 Beelzebul: A pagan god worshipped at Ekron (see Baalzebub, 2 Kings 1:2–16). The name probably meant “Prince Baal”. The scribes use it as a disdainful title for Satan. by the prince of demons: It was commonly held that weaker demons could be exorcised by more powerful ones. The scribes wrongfully attribute Jesus’ power to the sorcery of Satan, the most powerful demon of all (Mt 9:34; 10:25; CCC 548).

3:24–25 By ascribing the power of Jesus to Satan, the scribes reveal their own collaboration with the devil’s kingdom. Satan’s house will fall because Christ will conquer him, not because his demons are weakened by divisions within their own ranks (Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 3:8).

3:29 an eternal sin: The scribes utter blasphemy by attributing to Satan what is actually the work of the Holy Spirit (3:22, 30). Their sin is not unforgivable in principle since no sin can place us beyond the reach of God’s mercy. However, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a form of rebellion that is particularly grievous because it blinds people to their own need for forgiveness; in this case, sins are unpardonable when they are not confessed with contrition (CCC 1864). ● The sin against the Holy Spirit was prefigured in the OT when the Israelites fashioned the golden calf (Ex 32:1–6). Instead of giving worship and thanks to Yahweh for their deliverance, they honored as their true redeemer an idol of their own making (Ex 32:4).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel speaks plainly of Satan and sin. And in light of today’s anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, we still feel the echoes. When we look realistically at the society around us, we can become pretty discouraged. The conservative estimate regarding the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade is 54,000,000. That’s nine times Hitler’s holocaust. Assisted suicide was recently made legal in the state of California. The death penalty remains a blight on many of our states. And most people in our culture now feel that these states of affairs are simply a fact of life. The culture of death, as St. John Paul called it so bluntly, seems to be on the march.

But I want everyone to attend to what the prophet Habakkuk tells us: “Write down the vision clearly on the tablets…for the vision…will not disappoint.” What is he talking about? He’s describing the arrival of salvation to a people who had grown weary and desperate, convinced that God had abandoned them. And he is urging them to have faith, to trust.

And so on this somber anniversary, we continue to raise our voices and to walk according to faith. Our vision will not disappoint.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 71–72.

My Light and My Salvation

Scripture Reading


The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD. 

(Psalm 27:1,4,13-14)

 

Scripture Study

Tradition has handed down the two sections of the Psalm (Ps 27:1–6; 7–14) as one Psalm, though each part could be understood as complete in itself. Asserting boundless hope that God will bring rescue (Ps 27:1–3), the psalmist longs for the presence of God in the Temple, protection from all enemies (Ps 27:4–6). In part B there is a clear shift in tone (Ps 27:7–12); the climax of the poem comes with “I believe” (Ps 27:13), echoing “I trust” (Ps 27:3).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Psalm 27 is a favorite of many because it expresses the central impulse of biblical religion, trust in the LORD, in such eloquent and poignant words. In this it is like Psalm 23. It teaches what real trust is like, and it leads those who follow its lines in liturgy or meditation toward that trust.

Trust is active and real precisely when one is aware of one’s vulnerability, of one’s ultimate helplessness before the threats of life. Trust is possible for those who know the LORD as the savior of their life. Salvation is intervention that makes life possible in the face of all that threatens, weakens, and corrupts life.

In this psalm the opposite and counterpart of trust in the LORD is fear of human beings. They are dangerous because of what they do through language. By slander and lies they can place the self and life of the faithful in an environment of falsehood. The psalm is a refusal to let falsehood become the language world of existence. In its praise and prayer it evokes the reality in whose life faith chooses to live—the salvation of the LORD.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 745.